peeling orange theory trend On Peeling Oranges And The Simple Selflessness Of Love orange peel theory

On Peeling Oranges And The Simple Selflessness Of Love

Would you peel an orange for your loved ones?

Peeling oranges have recently become one of the most viral ways to say “I love you.”

Related: How I Use The 5 Love Languages To Keep Myself Sane In College

“I would peel an orange for you.” Simple, sweet, and to the point. There are many actions that say “I love you,” from your mom giving you sliced fruit as a snack to your friends always making sure you get home safe. These days, peeling an orange is going around social media as a heartfelt expression of love and appreciation. If someone is willing to peel an orange for you, the simple act could indicate a loving relationship.

It’s nothing new, of course. From poetry collections to Tumblr, the symbolism of peeling an orange has long been discussed and represented. But over on TikTok and X, the “orange peel theory” has been circulating as an exploration of love as found in acts of service, and what this tells us today is that we yearn for a love that’s kind and selfless, one that precedes the humble act of peeling citrus.


peeling oranges trend orange peel theory oranges jean little poem

Oranges – Jean Little

This poem by Jean Little is one famous example of how oranges have permeated our social consciousness and led to the trend that’s currently going around. To some, Oranges could mean, simply, someone’s appreciation of their friend—how they love them despite their quirks and differences. To others, it could also mean Kate enjoys doing something for her friend, something Emily appreciates her for.

And others, they even take on a more pessimistic reading and understand it as Kate wanting Emily to always depend on her or Kate being afraid that one day Emily will no longer value her if she no longer has to depend on Kate. Ah, the complexities of poetry (and love).

Regardless, service as love is a primary theme in this entire orange peel trend. Acts of service is known as a love language, and peeling oranges or any giving act similar to it is an act of service.

There are now plenty of interpretations and associations connected with peeling an orange, but essentially, in this context it’s come to represent love, intimacy, and relationships. To peel an orange is to exert effort into doing something for another person—to show you care through an act of simple service.


A shared experience of desiring love and connections—not necessarily romantic ones—is something that’s tethered people to the digital social space. From idolizing couples we see online to expressing our desires for intimacy (especially after such harrowing years losing social connections), we turn to the digital sphere to make connections and, often, collectively yearn. People also love when moments, no matter how mundane, are immortalized in words or artwork. They resonate with the majority, making them feel a wide range of emotions, from hope to pining to fulfillment.

Of course, just because someone would peel an orange for you does not make them the pinnacle of love and care. Some people on TikTok turned the orange trend into a test, testing whether their loved ones would peel an orange for them—and while it’s of course just a silly little TikTok trend, it’s not a surefire way to gauge how someone loves. But that doesn’t mean someone refusing or offering to peel an orange isn’t an indication of their character, either.


the orange wendy cope poem orange peel theory peel an orange peeling oranges

The Orange – Wendy Cope

In such an increasingly overwhelming and depressing time in the world, what keeps us going is often the mundane, simple moments that fill us with love and gratitude. May it be a small token, a night out with friends, playtime with a pet, or peeling an orange, these little glimmers allow us to feel like there is, still, joy and hope and love in the world.

Wendy Cope’s The Orange has also been circulating around social media, serving as a reminder of the joy in the ordinary. We don’t know why oranges have been so special to humanity all throughout time, but The Orange, like other citrus-related writing mentioned here, could be a refreshing reminder of what tethers us to humanity, and the possible beauty of existence. Seeing so much love, wonder, and joy in the simple act of peeling an orange, translated into words, into art, serves as a little spark of light in people’s days, and opens discussion about love, effort, and kindness.

What about you? Who would you peel an orange for?

Continue Reading: What Are Glimmers? The Concept That Can Help Us Find Hope In The Dark Days